Balanced Attack, Forney's Hat Trick Lead Eagles Past Thunder, 8-3
LOVELAND, Colo. - The Colorado Eagles extended their winning streak at the Budweiser Events Center to eight games with an 8-3 win over the Stockton Thunder in the second of four straight games between the Western Conference rivals. Colorado got goals from six different scorers, led by Michael Forney's hat trick, as he busted out of a scoring slump in a big way.
Colorado got the better of the first frame, out-shooting Stockton, 12-8, and getting the period's only goal. The Eagles built a 5-0 edge in shots before the Thunder registered their first shot seven minutes in, and at 9:14, Colorado got on the board first when Steve Haddon unleashed a heavy shot from the left circle and had his rebound put home by A.J. Hau. The goal was Hau's -- who was playing in his first game back with his hometown team after signing yesterday -- first in the ECHL.
The second period saw an identical shot margin (12-8 in favor of Colorado), but a total of four goals. The Eagles went up 2-0 at 5:43 of the frame just seconds after their own penalty expired when Devin DiDiomete grabbed a turnover in the neutral zone and sent a lead pass to Forney, who was coming out of the penalty box. Forney skated through the slot and blasted a shot past Tyler Bunz, recording his first goal since Nov. 30.
The Thunder cut the Eagles' lead in half at 10:40 -- again just seconds after another one of their power plays expired -- when Ryan Green put home the puck following a scrum in the Eagles' crease. That just-expired man-advantage chance came on the 5th penalty in a row called against Colorado, but minutes later the tides would turn and the Eagles would take advantage.
Working a four minute double-minor against Stockton, Colorado struck twice to stretch their lead to 4-1 heading into the third period. It took them just 36 seconds to score on the first half of the power play when Kevin Ulanski found Aaron Schneekloth cutting through the offensive zone. The defenseman sent a backhand shot toward the net where DiDiomete battled to put home a rebound; it was the forward's 4th goal in the past five games. Collin Bowman got the second goal with a seeing-eye shot from the point at 16:05.
Colorado kept coming in the final frame, netting two more goals before Stockton took advantage of two successive 5-on-3 power plays. Schneekloth made it 5-1 at the end of a hardworking shift when the puck found him skating through the slot just 2:47 into the period. And a minute and a half later, Teegan Moore made a nifty move in the neutral zone to spring himself on a breakaway that ended when he put home his own rebound to make it 6-1. Hau picked up the primary assist on the play, and goaltender Adam Brown picked up his first professional point with the secondary helper.
The Thunder cut the Eagles' lead to 6-3 with a pair of 5-on-3 tallies during a five minute power play; Justin Maylan got the first and Matt Reber got the second. But Colorado countered again with another pair of goals -- both off of Forney's blade. While working a power play of their own, Haddon found Forney on a back-door play to make it 7-3. And with just 27 seconds left in the game, Forney made a slick toe-drag in the slot before beating Bunz for the final time.
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